Manchin, Sinema helped at home by Left's attacks
by W. James Antle III, Politics Editor |
| June 09, 2021 06:00 AM
Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have emerged as the two most sought-after votes in the Senate, shoring up their centrist credentials at home and their power in Washington at a time when President Joe Biden is urgently seeking to pass his legislative agenda before the calendar switches to an election year.
The West Virginian and Arizonan are the least liberal Democrats in a 50-50 Senate, controlled by their party only because of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote. That makes them a force to be reckoned with even if the Senate were to eliminate the filibuster — a procedural move they have both steadfastly opposed.
Manchin and Sinema have so far used their leverage judiciously, mostly supporting Biden’s executive and judicial branch nominees — though Manchin’s opposition effectively torpedoed Neera Tanden’s nomination to run the Office of Management and Budget — and casting the deciding vote for the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”
But as congressional Democrats contemplate additional massive spending bills and controversial election reform legislation, with bipartisan infrastructure talks between the White House and Senate Republicans seemingly stalled, the potential for the pair to become an obstacle to their party’s goals has grown. Even their opposition to nuking the filibuster, which effectively creates a 60-vote threshold for most legislation in the Senate, limits Democrats’ options. The two already played a key role in defeating an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour earlier this year.